LOS ANGELES — BMW’s i3 on Thursday became the first electric car to be named Green Car of the Year, the top honor among automakers developing eco-friendly cars gathered here at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

It wasn’t just the car itself that led to the victory, but BMW’s entire strategy around sustainable transportation, says Ron Cogan, publisher of the Green Car Journal, which sponsors the award, in a statement. BMW used innovative technologies, materials and construction methods in the making of the i3, not just the fact that it is electric.

“BMW’s i3 is a milestone vehicle in many respects and illustrates the automaker’s expansive vision of future motoring,” says Cogan in a statement. “It is purposefully designed with a small environmental footprint and zero emissions, offering the best features of an electric vehicle with the functionality of an available on-board engine-generator that nearly doubles its battery electric range.”

In winning, i3 beats out the other finalists: A3 TDI, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and Volkswagen Golf.

It’s the 10th year that the honor has been chosen at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The i3 was designed as an electric city car, lacking the racy lines of many conventional BMWs. Yet is is filled with innovations, like use of sustainable woods and other materials. BMW also makes extensive use of carbon fiber in the car.

“Unlike other manufacturers that build vehicles and then create advanced powertrains to go in them, BMW rethought the whole process of building a car from the ground-up, using new materials and techniques,” said car lover and former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, a judge on the contest since 2005.